Wolf Administration Recognizes Recipients of 2020 Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence

Harrisburg, PA – On behalf of Governor Tom Wolf, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin today recognized municipalities and local government officials for their dedication and commitment to strengthen their communities and better serve their residents.

“At DCED, we often say that Pennsylvania is the best place in the world to live, work, and play—and that’s because of our local communities,” said Sec. Davin. “These projects represent what is best about Pennsylvania—our resilience, creativity, and strength. From combatting blight to promoting healthy lifestyles and helping those at risk for hunger, to using technology to improve government services, to fighting the opioid epidemic—these are just some of the ways our community leaders are giving back, and we are proud to commend all them for those efforts.”

Ten communities and eight individuals from across the commonwealth were recognized for excellent service as part of the 24th Annual Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence.

The following local government officials were recognized for their dedication to public service and their communities:

  • Michael E. Keller, Former Supervisor, Fox Township, Elk County (nominated by PA State Association of Township Supervisors)
  • Carl Cox, Councilmember, Knoxville Borough, Tioga County (nominated by PA State Association of Boroughs)
  • Dave Zarnick, Commissioner, Butler Township, Luzerne County (nominated by PA State Association of township commissioners)
  • Derek Green, Councilmember, City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County (nominated by PA Municipal League)
  • Dan Vogler, Commissioner, Lawrence County (nominated by County Commissioners’ Association of PA)
  • Stephen J. Hurni, Supervisor, Plainfield Township, Northampton County (nominated by PA Association of Council of Governments)
  • William Gomes, Director, Mifflin County Planning and Development Department (nominated by PA Chapter of the American Planning Association)
  • Craig A. Bubb, Executive Director, Municipal Authority, Lewistown Borough, Mifflin County (nominated by PA Municipal Authorities Association)

The following municipalities, organizations, and counties were recognized:

Building Community Partnerships

Pike County Commissioners

The Pike County Commissioners collaborated with public and private entities to create innovative solutions to three challenging issues facing their community – establishing an Opioid Task Force, the creation of a Tick-Borne Diseases Task Force, and the formation of a Reentry Coalition.

Responding to Adversity

The Borough of Colwyn, Delaware County

The Borough of Colwyn overcame their declaration as an Act 47 community. Their observance of the tasks and goals outlined in their Municipalities Financial Recovery Plan, adopted in November of 2015, has them moving in the right direction and on the road to recovery and financial solvency.

Promoting Community and Economic Revitalization

Slate Belt Rising – Northampton County

Slate Belt Rising, a collaboration between the Boroughs of Pen Argyl, Portland, Bangor, and Wind Gap in Northampton County, created the first multi-municipal Neighborhood Partnership Program in Pennsylvania. The program fosters long-term partnerships of businesses, government, and community leaders to produce a comprehensive, asset-based, and relationship-driven approach to community development and revitalization.

Mayor Marita Garrett, Wilkinsburg Borough, Allegheny County

Mayor Marita Garrett of Wilkinsburg Borough is receiving recognition for her efforts the past five years working with her colleagues, community members, and officials from all government levels to spur economic development and community revitalization to create positive change. Examples of her vision for the Wilkinsburg community include the Hunter Building Redevelopment Project, the largest commercial property in the business district, the creation of a Blight & Capital Planning Committee, and founding Civically, Inc – a non-profit that focuses on civic and social literacy to install self-reliance.

Innovative Community and Governmental Initiatives

Food Waste to Energy Program – Hermitage Municipal Authority – Mercer County

The City of Hermitage and the Hermitage Municipal Authority created the Food Waste to Energy Program at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Through both bodies’ efforts, they implemented an innovative, high technology process to convert food waste to energy as a compliment to the traditional wastewater treatment system. The result has been cost savings to the city, a reduction in landfills, and an economic benefit to the regional food industry. This ground-breaking program has garnered national recognition and attracted interest from government officials from across the country.

Fiscal Accountability & Best Management Practices

David W. Bolton, MBA, CBO Municipal Administrator – Borough of Abbottstown, Adams County

David Bolton of the Borough of Abbottstown established internal fiscal controls, which turned a budget deficit into a surplus and instituted best practices in the borough internally as opposed to having to rely on outside third parties. He has been instrumental in using innovative technology to improve service delivery and provide information and promote citizen participation. Bolton wrote an ordinance to establish a Borough Police Department, which will save over $300,000 in costs to the borough over five years compared with having to contract for part-time coverage from another municipality.

Innovative Planning & Sound Land Use Practices

“Allentown Vision 2030” – Department of Community and Economic Development – City of Allentown, Lehigh County

The City of Allentown’s Department of Community & Economic Development embarked on updating its comprehensive plan using the theme of “Allentown Vision 2030” to incorporate an economic development aspect to it as well. Allentown Vision 2030 has set bold but realistic goals for the city focused on inclusive development, safe and affordable housing, welcoming neighborhoods, accessible and connected transportation, and a healthy community. With the addition of an Annual Report Card and Community Ambassadors Program, the outreach to include citizen involvement is a critical element to the success of their efforts.

Intergovernmental Cooperation

“Seeking Critical Mass” – Mercer, Armstrong, Butler, Crawford, Indiana, Lawrence, Vengo, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties

The County of Mercer, on behalf of eight other counties, dealt with the issue of mental health and the ability to serve the growing demand for those who need help. To deal with the need for more Forensic beds, Mercer County took the lead since they were a non-block grant community, which gave them more flexibility in the expenditure of dollars. Two multi-county entities were created to administer the program, the first being Northwest Behavioral Health Management consisting of Crawford, Mercer, and Venango counties. The second, Southwest Behavioral Health Management, consisted of Armstrong-Indiana, Butler, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.

Information Technology

“One Stop Shop for Passport Services” – Dauphin County Prothonotary’s Office

The Dauphin County Prothonotary’s Office, led by Matt Krupp, implemented new IT hardware and software to become a one-stop for passport services in the Harrisburg area. The One-Stop-Shop for Passport Services helped to fill a void that was left for the area when the Passport Acceptance Facility located at the US Post Office in the Federal Courthouse closed in 2018.

Health and Wellness Initiatives

“Healthy Kids Healthy Allentown” – Bureau of Health, City of Allentown, Lehigh County

The Bureau of Health in the City of Allentown created the Healthy Kids Healthy Allentown anti-hunger task force. The Task Force was made up of over 20 community partners. The task force’s formation and efforts to increase summer meals to the youth of their community were helped by receiving a Cities Combating Hunger CHAMPS grant – one of only six cities in the country awarded one. In 2019, they were able to increase the number of meals served by 23 percent.

The Governor’s Center for Local Government Services sponsors Local Government Day annually to honor local governments and officials who serve their communities and improve their quality of life. For more information about the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services, visit the DCED website, and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Casey Smith, DCED, casesmith@pa.gov